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Four things to do with a bumper broad bean crop

Broad bean recipes by Stephanie Alexander

Broad beans are one of the delights of spring. Enjoy them while they last!

They should look moist and crisp, never collapsed and flabby. If you can, select smaller pods. 1kg of fresh beans in the pod will yield about 350g of beans when podded (2/3 cups) and approximately 225g (1 1/2 cups) after double peeling. To do this, the beans are first peeled from the shells, immersed in boiling water for 30 seconds, then quickly run under a cold tap to cool. You nick the outer skins with a fingernail and flip out the green bean within. It is a very time-consuming task, but the beans are virtually cooked by the time the skins are off.

Here are four delicious broad bean recipes perfect for making use of a bumper crop.


Newsletter 46 – France Part II

Stephanie Alexander and Annie Smithers

After a few action-packed days in Paris, Annie Smithers and I headed for Gascony and here settled into base camp with other travellers, the week to be curated by Kate Hill. I have always been fascinated by those who successfully expatriate. I know I could never do it myself so I hung on Kate’s stories of how she left the US over 30 years ago, worked for awhile in the UK, bought a large canal boat and travelled up and down the canals of France and Belgium for years, with a small group of passengers before finally settling in her delightful house, alongside a minor canal in the almost non-existent village of Camont, and devoting herself to sharing the delights of Gascony with interested travellers, writing about it, developing her interest in charcuterie, and sharing it all. We had such fun. Kate must have met every small farmer up and down the river, and she had so many stories.


Newsletter 45 – France & Basque: The Food Issue

Stephanie eating oysters

I am back after a month of eating, drinking, reflecting on travel and life, and immersing myself in several very different French landscapes (and a moment in Spain) and sharing the experience with a like-minded friend, chef Annie Smithers of du fermier (whom I proudly acknowledge as an apprentice way back in time).

First up, a summary of the great food experiences with a few words to give the meal a sense of place, in chronological order, not order of excellence. 

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Nine delicious savoury tarts & pies

Savoury Pie Recipes by Stephanie AlexanderPies and tarts are the ultimate in comfort food:  nothing quite beats a buttery, flaky pastry with a tasty filling. Conveniently served warm or cold, pies and tarts are easily transported and therefore work well as picnic offerings or take-along meals. Serve a wedge with salad for a light lunch, or make individual pies for passing around at a party: fabulous one-handed food!

Turning leftovers into a pie or tart is also a wonderful way to give last night’s dinner a new life. Learn a basic pastry recipe (see Pastry – Shortcrust in the Cook’s Companion) and suddenly the possibilities are endless.

Here are nine recipes and ideas for delicious savoury tarts and pies.



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Six lemon recipes for a laden lemon tree

Ideas for using lemonsWith a lemon tree taking pride of place in so many Australian gardens, it is often a question of how to use the fruit. On backyard trees the fruit hang obligingly for weeks, with the heaviest crops occurring in late winter and spring.  Lemon has so many uses: as a tenderiser, flavour enhancer, and preserver of colour in other fruit and vegetables. It is a refreshing source of acidity in drinks and a major ingredient in cakes, tarts, biscuits and creams. Lemon is mandatory with seafood, either squeezed on top or as the basis of a sauce. The zest can be used to make syrups in which to poach other fruit, and lemon peel can also be candied for a delicious after-dinner treat.

If your backyard lemon tree is heaving with fruit, here are six lemon recipes for making the most of your citrus bounty!



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Kitchen Garden Companion: Cooking